Final: Rockets 104, Mavs 97

Box Score | Highlights

Behind the Box Score

The Mavericks won the pace battle in the first half, holding the Rockets to just 43 possessions. That’s well below their season average of more than 101 per game. That played to Dallas’ advantage and Houston scored only 51 points in the first half. But in the second, things became a little more wide-open and end-to-end, and Houston was able to open up a lead.


  • Dennis Smith Jr. has excelled since returning from injury when spending time alongside J.J. Barea in the backcourt, and tonight was another example of why. During one stretch in the second quarter, Smith attacked and finished off a catch, knocked down a 3-pointer, and then received a pass from Barea against a switch and turned the ensuing drive into an assist.

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    Those are some high-level plays that Smith made look both natural and easy, which is good to see. Playing without the ball is much different than running point, but Smith must learn to do both. Not only will it make playing alongside playmakers easier when the Mavs add another young and talented guard or wing in the future, but it’ll also, as Rick Carlisle said, help Smith better understand the demands of every other position so he can lead the offense more effectively.

  • The Rockets shot a ton of 3s. A ton. 51, in fact. The most ever in a game against the Mavericks, in fact. The previous record also belonged to Houston, which launched 47 in the two teams’ earlier meeting this season. Dallas shoots a high volume of 3s relative to the rest of the league, but the Rockets really are in a league of their own when it comes to shooting the long-ball. Sometimes they take awkward-looking ones, but for the most part James Harden and Chris Paul are able to create open looks for their shooters from penetration out of the pick-and-roll in partnership with Clint Capela. It’s a very difficult team to defend, and while the Mavericks did enjoy some nice stretches — for example, holding the Rockets to a season-low 13 points in the second quarter — over the long haul Houston was able to outscore Dallas based almost on the mathematical fact that three is worth more than two. I don’t know how long it’ll be before every other team routinely hoists 40-plus treys, but the league is certainly heading in that direction at a pretty quick pace. The Rockets have long played the 3-point revolution to its extreme, but given the success they’re enjoying this season, the extreme in this case might soon become the norm.

    What’s Next

    The Mavs (16-32) will play the Portland Trail Blazers (25-22) on Wednesday at American Airlines Center at 7:30 p.m. Central.

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